Book review: Kingdom Of The Soap Queen

Even as reports suggest that TV and film producer Ekta Kapoor is taking author Kovid Gupta to court over his book Kingdom Of The Soap Queen, it’s interesting to ponder on what could have offended Kapoor so much.

Ekta Kapoor
Ekta Kapoor

In the book, Gupta (who also worked as a screenwriter for Balaji Telefilms’ television show Bade Achhe Lagte Hain) tracks the TV czarina’s momentous journey. The book emphasises on how Kapoor, who started making serials at 19, faced rejections along the way, had a series of massive successes with her K-serials (like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi), then faced a dip in fortune as the serials ran their course and went off air; yet managed to re-invent herself with serials like Pavitra Rishta and Bade Acche Lagte Hain and films like Love, Sex Aur Dhokha and The Dirty Picture.

The author speaks reverentially of Kapoor throughout the book, even ensuring the chapter titles all begin with the letter ‘K’. As someone who grew up in the US, he admits that watching Kapoor’s serials like Hum Paanch, gave him an initiation into Indian culture and he is an unabashed fan.

The book goes on to describe Kapoor’s couch potato teenage years, her desire to escape settling down and being someone’s bahu (ironic in hindsight) by joining an entertainment company, the rise of Balaji Telefilms, their early serials as well as the rejections and challenges which paved the way for the K-brand.

The book is a soap-lover’s delight and is good reading even for those who are keen to know about the nitty-gritty of getting a serial on air, the grime and effort behind the grease paint and what made Kapoor’s serials tick. It is peppered with quotes from people who have worked in K-serials, be it actors, directors or scriptwriters. Gupta also speaks to people close to Kapoor who played a large role in the production company like her aunt Nim Sood.

By the end, naysayer or not, you are left in awe of Kapoor who is the heroine of this saga, the odds she battled, how she learned on the job, and managed to influence and transform Indian television in a way that few have ever done.

As for us, we are still wondering why Kapoor got so rankled by this non-controversial book that stops just short of deifying her.

Kingdom Of The Soap Queen: The story of Balaji Telefilms, Kovid Gupta, Harper Collins, `299. Available in leading bookstores.

Kingdom Of The Soap Queen: The story of Balaji Telefilms, Kovid Gupta, Harper Collins, `299. Available in leading bookstores.

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